The Student Room Group
School of Oriental and African Studies
London

Questions about BA Japanese

Hi! I'm hoping to start studying BA Japanese in 2024. I've got offers from Cardiff and Manchester so far (waiting on SOAS), but I've heard SOAS is more full on than those two so I was hoping I could get some questions answered. Firstly, what is the workload like, how many words per week to learn, how many contact hours, what is the work-life balance like? Secondly, is it true that the environment is very competitive with grades posted up for everyone to see? Thirdly, I've heard there are small classes - what sort of size are they and are the teachers helpful if you struggle with a particular area? Thanks in advance!
(edited 4 months ago)
Original post by Grant18
Hi! I'm hoping to start studying BA Japanese in 2024. I've got offers from Cardiff and Manchester so far (waiting on SOAS), but I've heard SOAS is more full on than those two so I was hoping I could get some questions answered. Firstly, what is the workload like, how many words per week to learn, how many contact hours, what is the work-life balance like? Secondly, is it true that the environment is very competitive with grades posted up for everyone to see? Thirdly, I've heard there are small classes - what sort of size are they and are the teachers helpful if you struggle with a particular area? Thanks in advance!

Hi @Grant18 thanks for your message and congrats on your offers! I'm a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and International Relations and I've really enjoyed my time at university.
1) The workload for a language is quite intense but SOAS is really supportive and there's a peer mentoring scheme where students in their final years support students in their first years with vocab learning, grammar and help to provide language learning tips. For Arabic I have 2 lectures and 2 seminars every week and a speaking session so 5hrs per week and in my first year I had 120 words to learn per week.
2) No it is not super competitive and grades are not posted for everyone to see. We have exams every half term and then final exams in the summer in speaking, a translation text and an essay to submit
3) The class sizes are very small with between 5-20 students per class in seminars, providing a safe and supportive environment to ask questions and for any help you wish!
School of Oriental and African Studies
London
Reply 2
Original post by SOAS Student Rep
Hi @Grant18 thanks for your message and congrats on your offers! I'm a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and International Relations and I've really enjoyed my time at university.
1) The workload for a language is quite intense but SOAS is really supportive and there's a peer mentoring scheme where students in their final years support students in their first years with vocab learning, grammar and help to provide language learning tips. For Arabic I have 2 lectures and 2 seminars every week and a speaking session so 5hrs per week and in my first year I had 120 words to learn per week.
2) No it is not super competitive and grades are not posted for everyone to see. We have exams every half term and then final exams in the summer in speaking, a translation text and an essay to submit
3) The class sizes are very small with between 5-20 students per class in seminars, providing a safe and supportive environment to ask questions and for any help you wish!

Thank you very much, that is all super helpful!
Original post by Grant18
Hi! I'm hoping to start studying BA Japanese in 2024. I've got offers from Cardiff and Manchester so far (waiting on SOAS), but I've heard SOAS is more full on than those two so I was hoping I could get some questions answered. Firstly, what is the workload like, how many words per week to learn, how many contact hours, what is the work-life balance like? Secondly, is it true that the environment is very competitive with grades posted up for everyone to see? Thirdly, I've heard there are small classes - what sort of size are they and are the teachers helpful if you struggle with a particular area? Thanks in advance!


I have heard for Japanese specifically grades were made available to the whole class and it was relatively competitive as everyone was competing with everyone else for their preferred year abroad destination. However I gather they have made some changes in the department in the last few years to mitigate the somewhat toxic environment that had developed.

That said, it does seem pretty widely regarded that SOAS is the best place for language acquisition specifically, and apparently SOAS students get the highest scores on the JLPT and Japanese university language placement tests normally. A consequence of this is in order to prepare for that, there are a lot of quizzes and tests apparently so I imagine the language workload is relatively intense for Japanese specifically. On the flipside, that does mean SOAS will get you to a very high proficiency level very quickly.

When I was at SOAS doing language work while we had regular homeworks etc, it didn't feel overly pressured and our lecturer was very supportive. However I was doing a somewhat more "niche" language (Sanskrit) which may have made the experience a bit different. Although outside of my Sanskrit classes I did find the lecturers in other subjects also very engaged with the students and very happy to share their knowledge generally :smile:

Caveat emptor though, the admin can't be described as any other than absolutely dire. I say this also as someone who has been at several universities and worked at another one in a non-academic role, so I really understand why academic admin spheres can be rather slow and bureaucratic and have a much higher tolerance for that than most students, and even for me it's really bordering on unacceptable at many times. Although I would still recommend it for the academic qualities alone, be prepared to have an uphill battle for any kind of admin process there unfortunately.

Although a bit of an older post, the following user did Japanese (at Edinburgh) and has made some observations of the different unis offering Japanese here:

Spoiler





Also here that user discusses different year abroad destinations and how some are notably very poor and best avoided, which may be very useful information to have:

Spoiler

(edited 3 months ago)

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